Fiona and I had both taken 6 months off for a trip to Europe and to go around the South Island and we were really looking forward to it..
After getting back from Europe in early August and with our house still rented out, we immediately went to Taupo to pick up Rafe who was being cared for in Gary’s shed by Gary’s neighbour Chris… kind chaps that they are !
Click on the Images for Hi Res
We returned to Auckland to get a few things done like drop down steadies on Rafe and a couple of other things and then we were off.
We left Auckland and first stop was Taupo with Gary and Dianne, who we’d been around Europe with and other Motorhome friends Ian and Lynda. A few nights there, a night in Mangaweka, then to Wellington to catch up with my son Alex who commutes from Auckland, then onto the ferry and the adventure began.
Best Park over property (POP) – Peski’s in Geraldine where we spent nearly two weeks.
Best free Parking – Lowburn on the lake front.. a week of perfect weather helped here 🙂
I’ll let the Image Gallery below tell the story of the trip. Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow.
Rafe at the Mangaweka Campground
Entering the Tory Channel. North Island behind
Rafe with the handbrake on with people getting off at Picton.
Looking across towards Nelson with the snow on the tops of the hills
Some extras with the daffodils
Dogs exercising their owners.
I can feel a drink coming on
The famous Restaurant over the water.
Looking down the main street with the Old St Peters Church and the Windmill behind. The Windmill was in the main street of Nelson for many years.
Fiona on the Bristol Freighter
The Bristol Freighter
The port and the shops
Late afternoon in the sun
Looking down from the lookout
A Happy Place
The Moutere Inn
Dusk looking down Reeftons main street with the old lights lighting the street.
The Bearded Miners. Gavin, Peter and Mark
People collecting Driftwood down by the Greymouth Breakwater
ith rafe outside that famous Hotel
The Jetty down at Lake Mahinapua
The Bar. Amazing working cash register
Fiona with the fire at the Empire
Up in the Historic Gold area
The Franz Josef Glacier. See if you can spot a Helicopter
Rafe at Hawea
The amazing dump station with the grates in the ground at Queenstown
Queenstown with Jacks Point on the right
Fiona and Jessa at Q’town
Fiona checking out the Fairlight Railway Station
A Train at the Station
Inside the carriage – Lumsden
The Texaco Tanker Invercargill
Fiona in the café done up as a 50’s Kitchen
Curio bay looking towards the campground
The park setup – Lawrence
One of the Roxburgh pubs
A sluicing lake behind the park _ Roxburgh.
Close to the bike trail – Roxburgh
Fiona nearly at Roxburgh
A view over Clyde
The old Hotel
The road through the vineyard through the Kawarau Gorge
The kawerau River from the road
Jessa checking out a Pinot Gris at Mt Rosa
Lunch at the historic Gibbston Valley Tavern
The Ophir Bridge
The Function Centre – Omakau
The front of the Hotel
Starting off at Ranfurly Railway Station
Fiona arriving at Wedderburn
Once the tea rooms, now a museum.
The Dunedin Railway Station
Along the Platform
The Taieri train
In the Railway Station
The Pergola with a peep of Dunedin at the end.
Outside the ballroom
The main street at Rush hour 😉 Waimate
The Oamaru Wharf
Plenty of room
Sue (Peskis) with her new Letterbox
The gardens at Peskis
Fiona checking out the Hats
Cheers at Geraldine
One of the performing groups
Fiona with her great auntie Jeannie’s Morris
The interior of Johns truck
Fiona with the Cadburys Chocolate
Lake Tekapo late on our first day
Love the different layers in the colour
The Stone Church with the tourists
Happy Hour with all our visitors at Tekapo. Cell pic
A bridge across the river
Across Lake McGregor
Our neighbours Jim and Lynley back at the NZMCA park
The first Tunnel
On the way back to Omakau
A Miners hut
On the way to the Stamper Battery
Fiona gold panning
Under the mountains
Rafe in front of the house plugged in. The visitors area on the very left.
The boat club down by the NZMCA park
Parked behind the Gate in Cromwell
Ross is a great character.. the birthday boy.
The pools at Hamner
Fiona enjoying the heat.
Look at all that water.
Fiona at the market – Nelson
The Church cafe – Richmond
The bar at the cellar Door
Lots of Motorhomes on the deck
Ian and Gary with all the polishing toys!
We met some wonderful people along the way and had some nice 5pm catchups in some fantastic places.
The weather was superb. Fiona reckons we only had 1 wet day in the South Island! I reckon it was 3 but the weather really looked after us, if anything it was quite hot with a record breaking 33C in Cromwell on the day we decided to do a bike ride from Lowburn to the Historic Precinct and back !
The difference in Fuel prices between the different parts of NZ was quite noticeable with the highest I saw at $1.48 a litre for diesel around Hanmer and the lowest $1.19 in Cromwell. We filled up in Takanini before we left at $.98 a litre! As Fiona says though Hay Ho.. when in Rome !
One of the things that really surprised me as we went around was how many people recognised us from this Blog and who made themselves known. It was fantastic to meet you and to hear your feedback. We’re fast approaching 400,000 views which is amazing in less than 2 years!
We’re back in Auckland with our feet up for a bit before we set off again.
After a couple of nice days at Richmond, we decided we would cross the strait early and head back to Auckland. We headed to our favourite Blenheim Motorcamp, Spring Creek for a night before catching the ferry on a perfect day to cross to Wellington.
It was nice to see the owners Christine and Andy and the campground was looking good. I gave Rafe a good wash to tidy up a bit while Fiona got some washing done as well.
The next morning, we were off early and with perfect weather, the crossing was fantastic. We arrived in the middle of the day so we thought Plimmerton NZMCA park would be good for the night and then we would head to Taupo to stay with friends Gary and Dianne. They had arranged for some other friends Ian and Lynda with their Dethleffs XLI to join us for four nights as well. We were really looking forward to seeing them all again.
After an early departure from Plimmerton, we left and made good time getting to Waiouru at lunchtime after stopping at the Woolshed café in Sanson for a cuppa and some fuel. $1.19 a litre at the Sanson Caltex Truck stop for diesel.. amazing.
We had paid up to $1.45 a litre in the South Island.
We cruised in to Taupo about 3.30pm and as it was nearly 30C – hot!, we were with Gary and Dianne in their pool to cool off. It was nice to see them both again.
Ian and Lynda were arriving the following day.
The next day, Gary took one look at Rafe and while I washed Rafe, he made it clear that he thought, Rafe needed a bit more TLC.
Within a few minutes, he was out with his cut and polish kit and got straight into all of Rafe’s blue bits. The bonnet and the doors and the the decals down the side.
A light cut, a polish and buffing and it looked like a different vehicle.
When Ian arrived the next day, they were both at it but what a huge difference! Even the wheels got some silicone treatment!
We went down to Repco to get some Turtle Wax so I could wax it when I got back to Auckland (Which I’ve now done).
Thanks guys, you made such a difference and Rafe now looks a picture!
After 4 great days with the crew in Taupo, we headed back to Alex and Sara’s in Ardmore in Auckland (Son and Daughter in law) and the Grandkids Ayden and Liam. It was nice to see them again and with that, the South Island trip came to a close.
Christmas was on the doorstep and we were looking forward to catching up with friends and family. Many we hadn’t seen since we left for Europe over 6 months ago.
They’re a great couple and have been fulltiming in the Commanche now for nearly 2 years and loving the lifestyle.
After tea they joined us for a cup of coffee and a biscuit in Rafe. As Fiona says, they were the inspiration for us to try fulltiming so it was good to catch up with them and see how they were going.
The Richmond Motorhome park is part of the A&P grounds in Richmond and is extremely good value with powered sites for just $15. There are toilets, several washing machines and recyling and rubbish collection.
We left the next morning for the day to go into Nelson to see Monty’s market in the middle of town.
Interesting seeing people out having fun in the sun looking for the bargains.
After this we went to find somewhere nice for lunch and came across a group of three cafes all on the one site on the way to Motueka, about 2k’s from Richmond.
We initially thought they were owned by the same person but they are separate and competing businesses. We stopped in at the Waimea Cellar Door Cafe which was quite quirky and rustic with its décor. There is another cafe in a Church next door called la Capilla and also a burger bar called Abbey Road.
They had a deal on for a cup of coffee and a scone for $7 so we did that and then had a cider and a glass of the Waimea Chardonnay. Very nice it was too and a generous pour as well!
They all look like nice places with plenty of easy Motorhome parking around the back.
As we said our goodbyes to the good folk at Hamner, Roses’s parting words were “ Make sure you stop at Maruia Falls and take your camera!”
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So I was under orders. About 20k’s or so after Springs Junction where the West Coast road, The Lewis pass road and the Nelson road meet, there is a small carpark on the side of the road which has tracks down to these amazing falls on the river.
These are the falls Rose was talking about and there is a 5 minute walking track down to the river where you can get the real view from the waters edge. Its an impressive sight and the volume of water that gets through here is just huge.
You can also park overnight in your motorhome in the carpark if you want to.
We spent an hour or so here and its well worth checking this out and its not a big long walk either 🙂
While we were in Cromwell, we heard the odd crash of thunder in the distance and given that there were 5 days of storms in that region, we seem to miss it all 🙂
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After leaving Weedons, were headed into Christchurch to get some more toilet chemicals and then started the trek north to Hanmer.
It is years since we were last at Hanmer and its a great place.
We headed into the NZMCA park which I’ve driven past numerous times but this was our first time in it. What a neat spot. We’d only just pulled up and I was levelling up Rafe when I met our next door neighbours Tony and Beryl from Motueka, who were heading south to catch up with family in Arrowtown. They had a nice little Bailey caravan and having lived in a bigger model earlier were seasoned caravanners so it was really interesting chatting to them.
We were joined by their caravan by John and his girlfriend from Australia who was a real character. He had been part of the television series Outback Truckers so it was great to catch up with them too.
The next morning, we took Rafe into Hanmer which is about 7 k’s from the park and had a swim and lunch in the hotpools. While were there, out rolled these huge black clouds and it was all on with the thunder and the lightning. Even in the daylight you could see the lightening.
We got back to the park quite late and a new van had come in while we were out. Brian and Rose from Motueka. We got talking to them too and it turned out that they lived only a few houses away from Tony and Beryl 🙂 A small world.
We all got together between Rafe and Brians Motorhome and enjoyed a cold drink and a laugh or two. The Thunder and lightening hadn’t finished yet but we all had umbrellas which I thought was very stoic !
The Hanmer park doesn’t have any water, rubbish or any extras and as I said, its 7ks out of town but given that there is no freedom camping in the area, the options are very limited but its a great wee park all the same and comes it at the same great price as all the other NZMCA parks. 🙂
We first me Murray and Faye at Weedons several years ago when they visited us in Rafe for a few cold ones late one day and we bumped into them again a year or so later as they arrived at Pauanui and we were leaving so it was really nice to catch up with them again.
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They are now custodians of the Weedons NZMCA park just out of Christchurch and are really pleased with their new baby, “California”.
It is a 1994 Fleetwood Pace Arrow with a 300HP Cummins Turbo 6 cylinder diesel engine which they got last September. It is 11m long.
I asked him how many litres of Fresh, Grey and Black water they could hold and the numbers had many zeros on them so the simple explanation is they can go for 10 days with big showers each 🙂
Thats impressive !
Its a lovely bus which they’re slowly adding their own touches to.
Murrays parting comment was that he can’t get over how easy and comfortable it is to drive. “Its just like a car!”
The day of Ross’s party came around and with permission from the Hotel, we parked Rafe behind the Gate where Ross’s party was. It was a great do and I reckon there must have been a few sore heads the next day.
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Ross was in his element and was having a great time. I really enjoyed catching up with Ross and his family and some of our old boating friends who flew down for the occasion.
The next day we joined the crew down at the Precinct again for a cup of Coffee and then headed back to Rob and Helen’s place at Lowburn for our last night before heading north.
In the morning, we went to the recycling centre to drop off the rubbish and while we were there, I asked the nice chap in the little building if he could tell me what Rafe weighed. I had no idea.
With a Tare weight of 3499kg and a GVM of 4400kg, I was hoping it would be somewhere in between. It was 4080kg with full fuel and water and two of us onboard with plenty of food and wine 🙂 Yippee.. After a post on facebook, several suggested I should be carrying more wine ! A nice idea 🙂
We headed up the side of Lake Dunstan towards Geraldine where we were to stop for the night with Sue and David Fisher at Peski’s. We ended up staying for two nights and from there headed on up to Weedons NZMCA park.
It has been a few years since we were last here and it has changed quite a bit. It was nice to bump into our old friends Murray and Faye and to see that they now custodians of Weedons.
Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow
A neighbour hanging out the washing
Looking over to the Shed
In the shed
Its a huge park with storage fenced off at the back. There is a dump station there for cassettes only (septic tank) but there’s also a good dump station just down the road.
A nice park and handy to know its there as there aren’t too many options in this area.